into the wild with itchy scratchy patchy

Edie Campbell and Christabel MacGreevy’s eccentric label is back with a brand new collection.

by Tish Weinstock
18 May 2016, 11:18pm

Bored of Normcore nerds and all beige everything? Got a burning itch that needs a long awaited scratch? Then look no further than Itchy Scratchy Patchy, the delightfully absurd brainchild of model, Edie Campbell, and artist, Christabel MacGreevy. Founded last year, in reaction to the dreary humdrum of contemporary clothing, the DIY patch label is putting the fun back in fashion, as it flies the flag for tongue-in-cheek individualism. Stuck on pockets, bums, cuffs and collars, their patches have been seen on the likes of Bella Hadid and Stella Maxwell. Following on from their first collection - a witty play on British stereotypes (think beer bellies, body builders and Essex tans), their second collection is a series of nature-inspired patches on organza. Basically, it could not be more different, which is all part the label's eccentric charm. Here, we catch up with the design duo to talk punks, politics, and what's next for the itchy, scratchy world of patches.

What's the story behind Itchy Scratchy Patchy?
Edie: It kind of started because we were discussing how bored we were with the clothes that were being disseminated through the 'fashion system' and in mass media. How everything had become designed in order to look good on Instagram - so it all just felt quite two dimensional and unexciting. And there was this boring clinical/minimal thing. So both of us - in different ways - were craving decoration and adornment. And something that was less concerned with being 'tasteful' in a conventional and limiting way.

Where did the interest in patches come from?
E: I think it came out of that initial interest in adornment, and in clothes that have a story, that are full of memories and have something to communicate. Basically the opposite of "athleisure" (vom). And patches are tactile and visually intriguing. I don't think I've ever seen someone wearing a patch and not noticed it, or asked them about it.

Christabel: I remember looking for patches online, and finding them all ugly and cheaply made. I was unable to find what I wanted, so I thought it would be fun to get some made. I'm also obsessed with embroidery, so working with embroiderers and trying out different techniques and textures has been great.

Does the history of patches as political weapons and emblems of identity play into how you design a collection?
E: It's definitely something that is appealing to us in a broader sense - this idea that patches mark you as being part of something, part of a group. They are a very obvious way of communicating what your values are as an individual. But it's also a point of departure for us - so we look at what form patches traditionally take and try to move on from that, and use different techniques and formats and textures.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
E: It's light hearted, we want the spirit of it to be quite free. Because neither of us are trained designers we end up changing the aesthetic a lot. It's kind of interesting. We don't really feel like we have a fixed aesthetic - it's more about communicating the spirit of it, rather than it having a rigid continuity in the aesthetic.

Tell us a bit about the new collection.
C: The new collection depicts a variety of rather British flora, and then also we have a snake and a centipede and more fauna in the pipeline coming soon. It's about the beauty of the every day, and also references more traditional embroidery, which commonly depicts plants and animals.

E: I think in researching patches and traditional, very opulent embroidery from the 18th and 19th centuries, we found our starting point and moved on from that. And then a lot of the new collection is embroidered directly onto organza, which came out of looking at patchwork, and how sections of fabric roughly stitched are really effective visually. So there's a kind of darning/mending/home made/folk aesthetic mixed into the more conventional subject matter.

Your recent collection feels very current (Gucci etc), very artisanal, and actually quite grown up, it sits comfortably within the world of fashion, which is totally different from your previous collection which felt very anti-fashion in a way, or anti the seriousness that fashion sometimes cultivates, is this intentional?
C: There is a reason why the flowers we have made patches of are marigolds and stinging nettles, not roses or tulips. It is a continuation of the British sensibility, in the same vein of the characters from before, except we have moved on to something that perhaps has more widespread appeal.

Do you look to current trends for inspiration?
E: I don't think we intentionally look at current 'trends' but obviously it's impossible not to soak up what's going on around you. But I think the whole point of Itchy Scratchy Patchy is to remove yourself a bit from that constant cycle of high fashion being rapidly copied by high street brands, so suddenly everyone is wearing exactly the same thing, whether it's Celine or Zara. We kind of want to give agency back to the consumer, so that they have creative control over what they wear and how.

Where do you see the next collection going?
C: Currently we are working on a series of cloth patches, embroidery on silk, trying to play with what a patch can be and how they should look. We are also developing some amazing embroidered T-shirts that we are very excited about.

Who is the ideal ISP customer? How do you want them to feel wearing your patches?
E: I think our ideal customer is quite independent, we want them to be in control of how they look. It's all about the DIY energy, making things for yourself, and customising things. It's the opposite of buying this season's coat, which then becomes obsolete in 6 months time. The beauty of customising clothes is that they're never finished - you can keep adding and removing things, changing it. So in that way your clothes retain their value for much longer. And recycling clothes and the production process is something that has become really important to us. It wasn't necessarily our intention when we started out, but the seasonal fashion system is inherently wasteful: when your garment only has a 6 month lifespan - or even shorter with pre-fall and resort collections.

C: Our ideal customer is someone with a sense of humour, who has an eye for the way they look and put clothes together, and want to construct something playful and individual.

Who would be your dream collaborator?
C: We are currently working on a pretty dreamy collaboration, working with Levis and Sunspel, two heritage brands with reputations for making well made quality garments. We are patching up an amazing array of Kurt Cobain 90s era denim, which will be on sale in Dover Street Market, launching in July.

What are your hopes for Itchy Scratchy Patchy?
E&C: To do some more cool collaborations, to see our patches on people in the street, and to continue making things which we feel have a point of view, and which aim to entertain. I think it's about giving people the opportunity to have some more creative control over the way in which they dress.


Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Camille Summers Valli

fashion interviews
edie campbell
itchy scratchy patchy